November 25, 1863.
His Excellency JEFFERSON DAVIS,
President Confederate States, Richmond:
Mr. PRESIDENT: I have the honor to send herewith* a letter committed to my care from the office of the Adjutant and Inspector-General, received last evening. A scout from Culpeper reported last night that the First Army Corps of General Meade'a army, encamped near the court-house, had been provided with eight days' ration and received marching orders, their destination unknown, but their own men reported they were to move forward. A scout from Stafford also reported last night that Gregg's division of cavalry moved from Morrisville yesterday, with two batteries of artillery and a train of wagons, to Ellis' Ford, on the Rapphannock, where they were crossing when he left. They had eight's days' rations and inquired the distance to Ely's Ford, on the Rapidan, from which it was presumed that point was their destination. He also heard that the infantry along the railroad was in motion. From these reports and the indications in the Washington papers, I infer that General Meade inends to advance. Pickett's division should be held in readiness and advanced to Hanover Junction if nothing prevents. As far as I can judge, the Federal army greatly exceeds this in numbers, and every precaution should be taken to prevent disaster. I hear of no forces of the enemy south of James River or on the Peninsula. General Butler may project a movement up the Rappahannock to Fredericksburg.
I am, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
November 25, 1863.
General J. D. IMBODEN,
Commanding Valley District, Staunton, Va.:
GENERAL: I have been much gratified by the result of your recent operations, Major White's and Captain McNeill's.
The reports have been forwarded to the War Department, and I beg to tender to you and to the officers and men of each command my high appreciation of their services. Similar success will always attend like efforts. It is only by constant watchfulness and labor that the invasion of the enemy can be prevented.
It is important that you impress upon you scouts the necessity of giving you correct information. I think the strength of the enemy's column is always greatly exaggerated. I need only refer to the number of Averell's troops and the expedition said to have advanced up the Kanawha in this last expedition. Proper dispositions cannot be made to repel these attacks unless the number of the enemy be correctly stated.
From the reports of scouts, I think it probable that the army of General Meade is about to advance from the Rappahannock. Whether it will attempt to cross the Rapidan, there is nothing now to indicate. In the event of its advance, I have thought you might